Portland District People: Jennifer Richman, Deputy District Counsel

Jennifer Richman, Deputy District Counsel, Portland District

Jennifer Richman, Deputy District Counsel, Portland District

How did you choose your career field?
I began my professional life as an archaeologist, following a love for culture, people and working outdoors. After being sidelined from archaeology after 10 years and while considering what was next for me, I was drawn to the connection between the material artifacts and ownership on legal, moral and cultural levels. Who owns the past? There was a case in Australia while I attended graduate school there that raised these questions. And my interest was renewed with the discovery of the Kennewick Man remains in Washington state shortly after I returned from grad school. This launched a renewed professional path: law, with a focus on cultural resources.

I joined the Corps 11 years ago through selection in the Chief Counsel’s Civilian Honors Program. I spent my first nine years with Northwestern Division and arrived at Portland District in October 2011.

What does a day at the Corps look like for you?
On one day recently, I attended meetings on electrical reliability, worked on a Real Estate Office project and, as the District’s cultural resources law expert, I consulted with Buffalo District on a federal Indian legal issue. I also enjoy the managerial work that accompanies my position as Deputy District Counsel and supervising interns.

Why are attorneys important for the Corps?
We primarily practice preventative law, helping improve the execution of our work, rather than defending our actions after the fact. We advise the District about the legal sufficiency of our plans, identify legal risks associated with various courses of action and recommend actions to minimize risks. This lets us move forward with less legal vulnerability and more thoughtful implementation.

What keeps you busy outside of the Corps?
I teach a cultural resources protection seminar at Lewis and Clark Law School. I play tennis, travel and work with a couple of non-profits in the field of cultural resources. Recently, I’ve hiked to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail, been on archaeology digs in the Eastern Sierras and I go to Italy whenever I can.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
A restaurant owner on the Italian Riveria lavished me with food and wine every evening for a week or more while I translated his menu for tourists. Every trip is filled with opportunities like this.

All photos courtesy of Jennifer Richman